On July 5, the Guttmacher Institute wished a fond farewell to our longtime colleague and Vice President for Public Policy, Susan A. Cohen, upon her retirement after a distinguished 38-year tenure at the Institute. She joined Guttmacher in 1978 as an intern, and worked her way up through the ranks to become Vice President for Public Policy. Susan jointly directed the Institute’s public policy efforts, focusing on both U.S. federal policy as well as global sexual and reproductive health and rights. Beginning in 2013, she also served as the Editor in Chief of the Guttmacher Policy Review.
During her tenure at Guttmacher, Susan made lasting contributions to the Institute and to the field of sexual and reproductive health more broadly. Her accomplishments are too many to list, but include working to bolster U.S. government support for international family planning and block the “global gag rule”; helping to shape the Millennium Development Goals and the subsequent Sustainable Development Goals; spearheading the Institute’s first amicus briefs in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Zubik v. Burwell; and working to repeal both the Helms and Hyde Amendments. Beyond her many tangible accomplishments, Susan has served as a trusted guide to colleagues, and an unfailing source of thoughtful and insightful analysis and guidance. She has left a profound mark on our organization and on all of those who were fortunate enough to have worked with her.
Susan also served on the boards of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association and AVSC International (now EngenderHealth), as Chair of the Population and Family Planning Section of the American Public Health Association and on the National Governing Council of the American Jewish Congress.
“Susan spent her entire professional career at the Guttmacher Institute, fighting for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and around the world,” says Ann M. Starrs, Guttmacher President and CEO. “On behalf of her Guttmacher family and the entire field, I want to thank Susan for her immense impact over her nearly 40-year career. She has served as an advocate, a leader, a mentor and a friend, and she will be greatly missed. We wish her all the best in this next chapter.”
Following Susan’s departure, we are fortunate to have two long-time colleagues leading the Institute’s Public Policy division forward. Rachel Benson Gold, who has also been with the Institute for nearly 40 years, will be leading the team in Washington, DC, now as the sole Vice President for Public Policy, a position she has held jointly with Susan since 2013. Joining her is Heather D. Boonstra, Director of Public Policy and a 17-year Guttmacher veteran, who will be leading the Institute’s federal advocacy efforts and serving as Editor in Chief of the Guttmacher Policy Review.